On Sept. 21, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) issued a broadcast announcing the release of its Educator Evaluation Guidance for 2020-21. While there will be no departures from the evaluation regulations as laid out in in N.J.A.C. 6A:10, the department’s intention in issuing this guidance is to highlight existing flexibilities and aspects of prior guidance that are especially relevant this year.
Members have the right to teach and work in a safe, secure, orderly environment.
Teacher practice, typically measured by in-class observations, will comprise 85% of each educator’s annual summative score for the 2020-21 school year, similar to prior years. Because the NJDOE’s regulatory definition of “observation” is flexible, the current regulations can be adapted to allow for teachers to be scored in different ways.
Districts that are utilizing fully remote instruction with no in-person component must allow teachers to complete a portfolio of practice in place of a classroom observation. To compile the portfolio, the educator should “gather artifacts of their work… which are aligned to the observation instrument’s domains and indicators,” which will vary across districts because of the local variability of evaluation practices. The portfolio must include a virtual learning component that is agreed upon by the teacher and their direct supervisor; this component can be an observation of live learning or an asynchronous artifact such as a video recording of a teacher introducing a new concept. The guidance indicates that the portfolio can replace either an unannounced or announced observation, depending on whether a pre-observation conference is held.
Districts where any portion of learning is happening in person may conduct in-person observations of instruction for the purposes of evaluation. The department states, “Traditional in-class observations remain the required method for evaluating in-class, in-person instruction. This includes hybrid models in which teachers are teaching in-class, in-person with students.” Districts should “make every effort” to ensure that at least one observation is conducted in person and are encouraged to take advantage of local flexibilities in educator practice instruments; this should enable educators to account for differences in in-person learning brought about by current rules around social distancing.
Student growth objectives
As in prior years, student growth objectives (SGOs) are required of all educators, and they must have been submitted by Oct. 31. The 2020-21 evaluation rubric weights published by the NJDOE on Aug. 28 state that SGOs comprise 15% of educators’ annual summative score. Acknowledging that the process for setting and tracking SGOs will look different this year than it has in years past, the department reminds educators of the following:
• A teaching staff member may revise an SGO; the deadline for doing so is Feb. 15.
• Teachers should take care to craft SGOs that are rigorous yet attainable. The absence of data from prior-year statewide standardized assessments, and the interruptions to instruction caused by school building closures, may make this task more challenging.
• Multiple points of data should be used to determine a student’s “baseline” for SGOs, and they are meant to be collaboratively crafted by the teaching staff member and their designated supervisor. The NJDOE cautions against using a pre-test/post-test model for SGO administration this year.
The Educator Evaluation Guidance document also details training recommendations for administrators, regulatory requirements around evaluation policies and procedures, and Professional Development Plans and Corrective Action Plans. Following is an overview of this portion of the guidance:
• All regulatory requirements set forth in N.J.A.C. 6A:10 are in place.
• Districts must train educators on the evaluation rubrics, including the co-observation provision required of all administrators to ensure inter-rater reliability. Training must take into account the “realities of evaluation for the upcoming year” and should be tweaked “to highlight procedures and processes that will be impacted due to potential hybrid scheduling.”
• Districts must communicate evaluation policies and procedures to staff by Oct. 1.
• School Improvement Panels (ScIPs) are required to convene and should play a significant role in “making decisions regarding procedures.” DEACs are no longer required, but districts are urged to reconvene them.
• The planning of Professional Development Plans (PDPs) should take into account “issues related to the impact of COVID-19 school closures.” PDPs are living documents that may be revised during the year, and individuals who received a score of NE in 2019-20 will need to document 40 PD hours—encompassing a two-year period—in spring 2021.
• Districts should ensure that individuals on Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) are effectively supported. As is stated in the regulations, ScIPs are tasked with ensuring that administrators are implementing CAPs correctly.
The NJEA Professional Development and Instructional Issues (PDII) Division continues to monitor NJDOE’s guidance and advocate for the interests of our members and the students they serve. Members who have questions or concerns about the implementation of this guidance should immediately reach out to their local association rep and local association president.
As of the anticipated date by which this Review should have reached your mailbox, Oct. 30, all registered voters in New Jersey should have received and returned a ballot for the Nov. 3, 2020 election.
If you still have your ballot, you must return your ballot before 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. You have four options:
• Use a ballot drop box: Every county in New Jersey will have secure ballot drop boxes that will be open until 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. You can find yours here: nj.gov/state/elections/vote-secure-drop-boxes.shtml.
• Drop it off at a board of election office: You can deliver your ballot in person to your county’s board of elections office by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020.
• Visit a polling place: You can bring your ballot to your polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
• Mail it: If you mail your ballot, it MUST be postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and be received by your county’s board of elections on or before Nov. 10. If you have not yet mailed your ballot, you may want to opt for one of the three options above.
What if I decide to vote in person?
Due to the ongoing risk of exposure to and spread of the COVID-19 virus, while provisional paper ballots can be cast in person on Election Day, Nov. 3, the election is being conducted primarily with vote-by-mail ballots.
Because of this shift, there will be at least one polling place in each municipality in the state, and each county will utilize at least 50% of its normal polling location capacity.
Your polling location may be different from previous years. Check with your local government to identify where you should go to vote as some locations may be changed. You can also visit this website to find your polling location: nj.gov/state/elections/vote-polling-location.shtml.
Accommodations will be made for voters with disabilities.
If you choose in person voting, mask up and be safe.
How can I check that my ballot has been counted?
You can track and check the status of your ballot at nj.gov/state/elections/vote-track-my-ballot.shtml.
As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Saturday, Nov. 7 meeting of the NJEA Delegate Assembly (DA) will be held virtually through an online meeting platform. The meeting begins at 9 a.m.
See njea.org/da for details.
As reported in the September and October editions of the NJEA Review, the following candidates have been endorsed by the NJEA Political Action Committee (PAC) and the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education. To endorsement process is described in detail on Page 22 of the October edition of the NJEA Review.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
U.S. House of Representatives
CD-1: Donald Norcross
CD-2: Amy Kennedy
CD-3: Andy Kim
CD-4: No endorsement
CD-5: Josh Gottheimer
CD-6: Frank Pallone
CD-7: Tom Malinowski
CD-8: Albio Sires
CD-9: Bill Pascrell
CD-10: Donald Payne Jr.
CD-11: Mikie Sherrill
CD-12: Bonnie Watson Coleman
New Jersey Legislature
These two candidates were endorsed by NJEA PAC for a special legislative election.
LD-25: Anthony M. Bucco – Senate
LD-25: Aura K. Dunn – Assembly